Stop!  Don't Sue!  I don't nor do I pretend to own Inuyasha, Kagome, Miroku, Shippo or any other of Rumiko Takahashi's characters.

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Thank you for reading chapter one...  (-Diana R. Flynn) (drf24@columbia.edu) Enjoy!

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                Inuyasha's ears twitched before he even recognized the sound, before he even finished climbing out of the well.

                Footsteps outside, and not all of them were Kagome's. . .  Inuyasha held himself still and listened.

                "Really, Higurashi-san; it's no trouble!"

                Inuyasha felt his knuckles cramp on the edge of the well.  Him.  He'd followed Kagome home from school.

                Inuyasha grit his teeth and pulled his hand back from where he'd started to reach for the door handle.

                Kagome had explained to him that people in her time weren't ready to accept that demons were real, and that there was no way of telling how an unprepared person would react to him, so she had imposed the ridiculous restriction that Inuyasha was to avoid being seen close up by anyone unless there was some real threat.

                . . .okay, so it was more like she'd asked Inuyasha not to frighten her friends, especially Hojo.

                . . .okay, so she'd just told him to keep his claws out of that stupid boy's lungs.

                The point, though, was if that he went out there, she'd sit him into the underworld.

                Inuyasha galled as he realized that the soft-skinned runt was holding him down just by being there.

                He set his teeth.  It wasn't as if the skinny scrap of a human posed a danger to Kagome, even if he overstepped his bounds, but just in case. . .

                He reached for the door again and let it slit open, giving him a view of the courtyard between the well house and the main shrine.  Kagome was standing several yards away, near the entrance to the shrine grounds, and with her was a tall – for a human – boy with short brown hair and a smile that was just a bit too bright.  Inuyasha choked back another growl.

                If all the human had done was walk her home, then why had she let him past the gate?  What was she thinking?

                And what, if anything, had she done to put that stupid grin on his face?

                Inuyasha's train of thought cut off as Kagome spoke, ears twitching to catch the sound, "Thank you for carrying my books, Hojo-kun, but you don't need to bring them all the way to the house for me!"

                Inuyasha noticed the strap over Hojo's shoulder, and the way he was holding his weight.  The boy turned and he saw that he was carrying the pack that Kagome used to take her spellbooks back and forth to that school.

                "Ah. . ." Kagome sounded uncomfortable. "Well thank you, Hojo.  I should be getting inside. . ." Inuyasha smirked.  Late or not, at least she wasn't wasting any more of his time. "See you in school."

                "Wait!"

                Fuck.

                The voices dropped and Inuyasha could barely make out Hojo's next words.

                "I'm sorry, Hojo-kun, but I'm going to be busy on Saturday."

                Inuyasha smirked again, not really knowing why.

                "Oh. . ." at the disappointment in the human's voice, the smirk became an all-out grin.

                "Maybe another time!" Kagome told him cheerfully.

                "Really?"

                The grin dropped.

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                "Hojo-kun?" Kagome asked quizzically as they came to a stop near the Goshinboku tree. "What's that around your neck?"

                "Oh, this?" Hojo tucked one thumb under the cord so that Kagome could get a better look. "My grandmother gave it to me. . ." Kagome leaned in and blinked.  A clear stone hung on . . .some kind of twisted hemp?  Certainly didn't look like much.

                And yet. . .

                There.

                A dull pulse of power.

                Oh...  Kagome, it's probably nothing.  I'm getting as paranoid as Inuyasha.

                Kagome blinked.  Hojo was still talking. "—so it itches a bit, but she asked me to wear it and a young man should listen to his elders.  Hey, did I ever tell you that I'm one-quarter—"

                THWACK!!

                Kagome gasped as a heavy branch hit the ground not a foot from where Hojo was standing.

                Oh no. . ...

                She looked up into the arms of the Goshinboku and caught a flash of red darting away toward the well house.  Her eyes narrowed.

                Stupid dog-boy! she seethed. Can't he get it through his head that I can talk to whoever I want?  

                "Whoa!" Hojo exclaimed. "You guys should get this tree trimmed, Higurashi!  A person could get hurt, and you spend enough time in the hospital as it is."

                Kagome shook her head. "My grandfather says that this is a sacred tree.  I don't think he'd want anyone to hurt it." Especially not jealous dog demons.  How could he act so. . .  Well the point was that Inuyasha was going to get sat into the underworld.

                "Well, thanks for carrying my books for me, Hojo-kun," she asked, smiling widely and hoping to any attentive gods that he'd get the point.

                No luck.

                He beamed back at her, "No trouble at all, Higurashi-san!  After all," he assumed an almost lecturing tone, "you'll need your strength to fight your chronic hematosis."

                Chronic humma—  Was that even a real one?

                Kagome suddenly wished that she could ask Kaede for an extra subduing charm just for her grandfather.

                "Uh, thanks. . ." she took hold of her bookbag strap and tugged it onto her shoulder, already mentally gearing up for her trip to the feudal period as she turned and walked towards the well.

                Told her mother?  Check.

                Shikon shards safe?  Check.

                Restocked the first-aid kit?  Check.

                Packed ramen?  Check.

                Lots of it?  Yes.

                Bag waiting in the well house?  Check.

                Inuyasha-shaped crater in the pavement for his attempt to flatten Hojo with a chunk of sacred plant matter?  Nope, still gotta get that one. . .

                Yeah, and had she packed her math book?  Check.

                She reached for the well house door.

                "Uh, Higurashi?  It's that way," she turned to see Hojo pointing at the house and looking at her with concern. "Is it your spatial dyslexia again?"

                "I'm fine, Hojo-kun." Kagome gave what she hoped was an encouraging smile. "I just have to do something in here.  See you later."

                "Okay!"

                Before she knew what was happening, Hojo had stepped right up to her and thrown his arms around her shoulders. "Feel better, Higurashi!"

                Kagome froze.

                An audible growl came from behind the well house door.

                "Bye!" Hojo finally released her and began to walk toward the gate.

                Kagome exhaled and put on her best glare.

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                "What the hell did you think you were doing, bitch?" Inuyasha began even before she'd set closed the door behind her. "Why were you leaning in so close to him?  Why did you let him touch you like that?  Don't you know that you're—"

                "SIT!"

                "Glak!"

                "Inuyasha!" she began, not caring that her voice had gone shrill.  Good!  Now that the company was gone, she could screech all she liked, "What were you trying to do dropping a branch on Hojo-kun!  You could have killed him!"

                Inuyasha's response was muffled against the floorboards, but it didn't take a rocket scientist to figure it out.  With effort, he pushed himself up on his elbows. "Keh!  A little branch?  He's weak even for a human if that's all it would take!"

                "Don't try to hurt my friends!" she scolded, "And not that it's any of your business, but that thing he was wearing around his neck felt funny to me.  I wanted a closer look."

                "Funny?" Inuyasha's tone was carefully irritated as he craned his head up off the floor, but his ears were twitching eagerly, "Like a shikon shard?"

                ". . .no," Kagome said at last. "There's something creepy there, but it isn't a shard."

                He sat up and folded his arms across his chest, "All the more reason not to let him get near you," he said darkly. "It could be a trick, some wizard charming a weak-minded boy to get to you."

                "Weak-minded?" she steamed, dropping her bookbag next to the well. "If that's a problem then I'm not safe with you either.  SIT!"

                "Oof!  Bitch!  Quit doing that!"

                Kagome closed her eyes primly as she slung the travel pack onto her shoulders and stepped onto the low stone wall.

                "No," she said, and jumped in before Inuyasha could pry himself off the floor and follow.

                Neither one of them noticed that the door had fallen open.

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                Ooh!  He makes me so mad! Kagome didn't wait for Inuyasha and turned her back on the Bone-Eater's well.  He'd catch up soon enough, and with some stupid speech about how Hojo was a loser and weak just because he didn't fight or pick his teeth with his claws or call her names all the time.

                There was a rustle behind her.  Three.  Two.  One. . .

                "Not another step you stupid girl!"

                Inuyasha  landed on the path in front of her, eyes livid.

                "Kaede gave me these beads to keep me from ripping you apart with my claws, not so that you could send me into the ground every time you felt like it!"

                Kagome lifted her chin. "Were there any rumors of the jewel shards while I was gone, Inuyasha?" she asked smoothly.

                "Don't change the subject!  We're talking about—"

                "Higurashi?"

                Inuyasha stopped.

                Kagome's eyes went wide and she slowly turned her head toward the other voice.

                Hojo was standing on the path behind them, his plain eyes moving from her to the livid dog demon and back.  He swallowed and held something out one hand.  Kagome's heart sank as she saw it was her math notebook.

                Of course he did. . .

                Hojo gulped again. "You, uh, dropped this."

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Okay, so it's been done before.  I'm going to do it much better is all.  Reviews welcome!